Imagine you’re in a band, and your singer just doesn’t show up.
You’re in a real bind — do you cancel the show, or do you go on and perform as an instrumental unit?
For Scott Metzger, this exact situation happened to himself, bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Floreth at a gig in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The trio decided to perform without their singer, and on that day the band WOLF! was born.
The trio of veteran musicians have played with the likes of Phil Lesh & Friends, Moby and Nicole Atkins, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Cass McCombs, Shakey Graves and Sharon van Etten, so jamming on their own was no issue. However, none of them probably expected that a full-blown instrumental band, one who produced two excellent records would come out of that fateful night.
Recently, we caught up with Scott Metzger to talk about the band’s new record 1-800-WOLF!, and their upcoming performance at Asbury Park’s House of Independents with Nicole Atkins.
Your new record 1-800-WOLF! is out — how do you feel WOLF! has evolved as both a live band, and the band that record your last record WOLF!
We’ve come up with new ways to make things more group-improvisation oriented. Instead of just playing guitar “solos” I feel like, on a good night, we’re all composing together in real time.
I loved the fact you put the “Tomahawk Chop” on the record — any reason why?
Everybody loves that one. That’s basically just us fucking around with an old, familiar melody that everyone knows.
Can you talk about the writing process of the record — was there a lot of improvisation in the studio or was there a specific method to the madness?
More madness than method, I guess. We had an idea of what songs we wanted to do. When you go into the studio, you gotta have a vision of what you want and a loose game plan since the clock is ticking. That said, a few were never performed live and we came up with arrangements in the moment and sussed them out at The Creamery. “Furry Freedom” was just us getting sounds in the studio, which turned into a jam that we we liked so much it made the record. Never played before or since.
In the same vein, which song was the most challenging to record?
That’s easy – “All Dressed Up.” A good studio version of that one had been alluded us for years and we were psyched to finally nail one down that we liked.
You’ll be performing with Nicole Atkins at House of Independents in Asbury Park — what are your thoughts on Asbury’s favorite as a singer and songwriter?
Nicole’s the real deal. She gives 100% every performance and has a real clear vision for what she wants her music to sound like and what she’s going for. She’s great. Proud to be playing with her on her home turf.
You’ve performed in Asbury Park before, most recently jamming on the sand this summer, can you talk about the vibe of Asbury Park as compared to other cities.
I grew up in Lambertville, NJ and Asbury Park was always a real mystical kinda place to me. Like that was the REAL Jersey Shore. I still feel that way.
WOLF has a really crazy origin story — do you ever sit back and laugh and wonder how this band went from a group that had to improvise when the singer didn’t show up, to a full-fledged band who’s now releasing their second record? What are your thoughts about the evolution of this band?
(Laughs) Yeah, but it still feels the same between the three of us. We’re not trying to turn this into anything more polished than we ever set out for it to be in the beginning. There’s a real pride and joy in that. It’s real, ya know? This band is about this very specific attitude and approach to playing and that’s how it’s gonna stay. It feels more like a gang than a band to me. I’m just thrilled more people are showing up to see us then there are guys in the band (laughs).
What are your plans for the rest of 2016, and the beginning of 2017?
Keep on doing the thing for anybody that cares to listen!
Scott Metzger and WOLF! perform with Nicole Atkins this Saturday at House of Independents in Asbury Park, NJ. Click here for tickets.